Littletown 6 Thornhill 2
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Match & Day Enjoyment: 9/10
When perusing the weekly fixtures I noticed a wonderfully named competition The Heavy Woollen District Cup. The name alone had grabbed my attention so more investigation work was required.
The Heavy Woollen District is named because of the heavyweight cloth manufactured in an area of West Yorkshire . Dewsbury,Batley,Heckmondwike and Ossett are the core of the area. The majority of mills have now either closed or have been put to another uses.
When I started to research about Littletown FC I knew immediately that it was a venue that I had to visit.
Surrounded by a mixture of housing and local industry Beck Lane sits in the heart of the Heavy Woollen District and in its infancy it was home to Heckmondwike Rugby Club, formed during the 1870s who turned professional and joined the breakaway Northern Union (the forerunner of today’s Rugby League). They played for three seasons, between 1896 to 1899, as a senior club at Beck Lane, before losing their senior status to Hull Kingston Rovers. The rugby section folded in 1903 and the club switched to football.
A number of clubs used Beck Lane before it was taken over by Huddersfield Town in 1933 and used as a training base and venue for reserve and youth team games. In 1957 a young Dennis Law played for Town in an FA Youth Cup-tie that attracted a crowd of over 5,000, judged on todays visit alone I still can not work out how such a crowd was squeezed inside this venue. More recently Littletown FC of the West Riding County Amateur Football League have played there. In 2001 Beck Lane staged the longest penalty shoot-out in soccer history- the tally had reached 17-17 in Littletown’s game against Storthes Hall when the game was abandoned due to the failing light.
As I pulled up outside the ground instinct told me that it would be an afternoon well spent.They were just putting the finishing touches prior to starting. Goal nets were up, corner flags distributed , match balls pumped up, bibs and cones all in their places all that was missing was a long ladder , some kind of ball retriever not disimilar to a tool an errant golfer would use for his lost golf balls in the lakes and a pair of Wellies !
The extra 'tools' were there to retrieve wayward footballs from the strong running stream literally a few yards and a ten foot drop from the touchline. It was all quite bizare as during the match , club staff spent most of time wading through the stream to retrieve their “precious jewels”. One particular time a matchball had caught the strong current so off went the chap through the water with his rod at a fair lick only to reappear a few minutes later soaked, via another gap in the fence with his “catch of the day” in hand and a big smile. It was a wonderful sight.
The focal point of the ground is the main covered stand which straddles the half way line. Very useful for when the heavens open. Hot beverages and snacks were served and all were appreciated.
The match itself was better than I had expected. The ref was busy with bookings, sendings off, penalties and eight goals, with the hosts getting six of them. The fixture was a 'derby' of sorts between two teams seperated by only a few miles but they play in different leagues. The away followers were giving the Littletown centre forward some stick after he ballooned a couple of sitters over the bar from close range , but he got the last laugh in the end as he hit the teams sixth goal.
You see it is hard to pull the wool over the eyes of folk in the Heavy Woollen District. It is fair to say that it was a cracking afternoon's entertainment.